Harvard Heart Letter

New wireless defibrillator approved

Under-the-skin device meets the needs of a special population.

Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) are personal devices designed to jump-start the heart, like shock paddles do. A traditional ICD has two parts. A pulse generator about the size of a deck of cards is implanted under the skin just below the collarbone. It contains a battery and computer software and stores an electrical charge. The pulse generator is connected to the heart by wire leads that are threaded into a vein leading into the heart. The leads constantly sense the heart's rhythm and can deliver a shock if necessary to restore a proper heart rhythm. The wires, however, can lead to infections and other problems.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »